“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” *-Proverbs 9.9
I recently started a new job, an experience I am very familiar with. Each time there are new systems in place that take some getting used to and old habits from previous ones that need to be broken. It started me thinking about the spiritual parallel.
When I start a new job, usually there is some sort of orientation on the first day where I learn about what the company does, who is in charge, and what my role will be. Next comes training, the instruction of how to fulfill my role effectively.
The training is usually reading a manual and learning the skills of the job. However, training and memorization in isolation can only prepare you so much for what the job will actually be like. This is where something called on-the-job training comes in. In every good job experience I’ve had, one thing sets me up for success better than any other: being shown how to do the job while doing it. Guides and tutorials are definitely useful, but it is important to get advice and help first from someone more experienced before doing the job.
Just as when starting a new job, a new life in Christ brings new things to get used to doing and old instincts that must go away. They feel strange and you may mess up at first, but in time your old nature fades and the new nature becomes your go-to.
As a Christian, you won’t be effective in your role as a light in darkness on your own. You need the guidance of God and truth speaking leaders and mentors. Only with the wisdom found therein can you avoid mistakes and misrepresentation of the gospel. It comes with training from both spending time in the Bible and by learning first hand from prayer and godly mentoring.
We see many examples of the wise and godly leadership throughout scripture, most notably the the disciples of Jesus and Paul’s role in the lives of Timothy and Titus. For us, that leadership often comes from a pastor or youth pastor, but it could also come from a godly parent or grandparent.
It is very important to understand that you cannot have one without the others. Meeting with a mentor can’t take the place of intentional time in prayer with God. Likewise, you can’t rely on the study done by others to count as your own learning. But when all these aspects of growing in faith are congruent, you will continue to deepen your understanding and become more effective in the position God has given you.
So I want to encourage you. If you don’t have a mentor but are in prayer and studying the Bible, pray for God to show you who to go to. If you find that God is giving you wisdom, don’t keep that to yourself! Pray about ways you can be a mentor figure to someone you know, an unsaved friend or a new believer who you may know. If you aren’t in either situation, start with praying, reading God’s word, and talking to a pastor about questions you may have about what you’ve read.
God will give us wisdom if we ask, but we have to be intentional about seeking it from him.